Since the new Liberal government took hold in Canada, we've been hearing about many changes that will take place to both the Express Entry program as well as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.
Both programs have room for improvement. Certainly there is an argument for adjustments over time to keep up with demand. Express Entry is only 1.5 years old and the TFWP is managed by both Citizenship and Immigration Canada as well as Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Surely they have accumulated enough information over the past few years for a tune up, citing any number of influences from labor availability, mass migration, and the price of oil, to name a few.
Both programs are currently under review in Ottawa. The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) is tasked with identifying the issues with the changes made to the TFW program in 2014 under direction from the Conservative government. This review was launched last week in light of the ongoing crisis in Fort McMurray potentially causing many foreign workers to be deported as a result of their place(s) of employment being destroyed by fire.
Stiffer penalties to those employers who break the rules when hiring Temporary Foreign Workers have already come into effect on December 1, 2015.
The roundup of potential changes to the TFWP:
- Allow TFW evacuees open work permits, allowing them to change jobs, at least in the short-term
- Extend Employment Insurance
- Create more accessible pathways to citizenship
Immigration Minister John McCallum has made several statements about the ongoing review of Express Entry, usually during press conferences in the past few months that were largely supposed to be about Syrian resettlement - but the questions regarding immigration streams persist. On February 3, 2016 during a news conference, McCallum suggested (to applause) that the role of the Labour Market Impact Assessment may not factor in as high of an importance in a future version of Express Entry.
At the same conference, McCallum also mentioned that the preferred stream of immigrants for employment favored the TFWP first and then the Provincial Nominee Program and Express Entry at the bottom. He would prefer to reverse that order, with Express Entry the leading mechanism of immigration for skilled workers.
In March, McCallum stated that, “We must do more to attract students to this country as permanent residents,” and suggested that ideal immigrants were students that had been shortchanged by the current system. Extra points could be added to university graduates to sweeten their overall CRS scores.
As a keynote speaker at an immigration conference this week in Vancouver, McCallum suggested a change in policy to the work permit process could see the option of an employer paying a fee to expedite the process. He also stated that a labour market assessment should not be a decisive factor for determining access to permanent residence status.
The roundup of potential changes to Express Entry:
- Reduced value of LMIAs (or eliminated all together)
- Priority over other immigration streams
- Better deal for international students and mechanisms to keep them in Canada after graduation
- Fee for expedited work permit
- Increased resources to reduce application wait times
The great news is that we have a better idea of what to expect from the reform of both of these programs... the bad news? We have no idea of knowing when they will be implemented.